The final unravelling of one of South Africa’s more famous gentleman crooks, celebrated attorney Dines Gihwala, will reach its climactic conclusion within months, when he stands to be stripped of both his professional status and his ill-gotten fortune.
Already in August last year attorneys Abrahams and Kiewitz, representing the Cape Law Society, filed an application to the high court to have Gihwala struck from the roll of attorneys – the ultimate disgrace for a member of the profession.
The curiously protracted process has been conducted in great secrecy, but Noseweek is reliably told that the public record of Gihwala’s misdemeanours in various court cases was found to be so extensive that the society’s disciplinary committee decided to proceed with the application without having conducted their own more-usual internal disciplinary hearing.
Gihwala has filed an answering affidavit opposing the application. The case is expected to be scheduled for hearing within the next two months.
Later this year Gihwala faces further court proceedings: the debatement hearing, expected to last weeks, will begin in the same high court where, as ordered by the Supreme Court of Appeal, he will have to answer questions relating to claims totalling nearly R100 million, arising from his devious misconduct and failure to account for various business transactions.
Gihwala – once favoured by Mandela’s Minister of Justice Dullah Omar with an appointment as acting judge of the high court – went on to become chairman of one of South Africa’s big five law firms, Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, and was entrusted by the Financial Services Board with the co-curatorship of Fidentia, a billion- rand financial services group.
Noseweek was never taken in by his claims to fame and respectability, publishing its first disclosure of his unprofessional conduct in January 2000 (nose28).
But, in the end, one man – UK-based businessman Karim Mavji – must take the credit for bringing down this worthy, professional crook who brazenly used his position as an officer of the court as a cover for his criminal activities.
Reassured by Gihwala’s then professional status, Mavji had made the mistake of trusting him with the management of some major investments made by two of his offshore companies: Grancy Property Ltd,
registered in the British Virgin Islands, and Montague Goldsmith AG, registered in Switzerland. It is their
claims totalling R100m that are scheduled for debatement in court later this year.
These companies have succeeded with various smaller claims in previous court proceedings that have seen Gihwala having to pay more than R12m in damages. Arising from them, in June 2014, the high court found that Gihwala had misappropriated funds, making payments totalling millions to himself – to which he was not entitled, was recklessly in breach of his fiduciary duties, and failed to disclose serious conflicts-of-interest.
The court found it had no option but to declare Gihwala a delinquent director, not fit to be a director of any company or be entrusted with managing any corporate entity.
Bringing Gihwala to account has so far taken Mavji eight years and cost him in excess of R20m in legal fees.
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